freedom of expression

Possible Secrecy Bill Clause Welcomed

The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has welcomed the possible inclusion of a public interest defence in the Protection of State Information Bill.

SANEF chairperson, Mondli Makhanya says that his organisation looks forward to further progress in ensuring that this bill is a democratic instrument for the management of sensitive information, rather than a tool to suppress the free exchange of information and ideas that is central to our constitutional dispensation.

Mothapo: Secrecy Bill Will Not Deter Journalists

The spokesperson for the African National Congress chief whip in Parliament, Moloto Mothapo, says the proposed Protection of State Information Bill will not deter journalists and other officials from blowing the whistle on corruption.

Speaking ahead of the ANC meeting with SwissCham South Africa (SCSA) in Johannesburg, Mothapo expressed concerns regarding the Bill, prompting them to send a letter to the ANC chief whip on the matter.

He argues that if anything the Bill will provide transparency in government.

CSOs: Arson Attacks Target Rights Activists

Civil society groups in Malawi have accused President Bingu wa Mutharika's administration of muzzling freedom of expression following an alleged arson attack on a house belonging to a rights activist.

The house, which belongs to McDonald Sembereka, the acting national coordinator of a group of human rights organisations, the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), was allegedly petrol bombed earlier this month by unknown arsonists.

Secrecy Bill May be Delayed – Mantashe

The African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, says the tabling of the Protection of Information Bill may be delayed.

Mantashe could not confirm news reports that the Bill will be withdrawn as a result of a decision taken at the ANC's weekend national executive committee meeting.

He says it is a ‘difficult bill’ and that the media and the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) are exaggerating it by calling it a ‘media bill’, adding that it is actually a ‘security bill’.

Right2Know Warns Against Secrecy Bill

With Parliament expected to pass the ‘Secrecy’ Bill into law this week, the Right2Know campaign has warned against a loophole that could see cabinet ministers getting wide powers to classify information.

Right2Know coordinator, Murray Hunter, describes the wide classification powers given to ministers under the Minimum Information Security Standards (MISS) as an abuse of power.

Hunter argues that, "Unfortunately, the new opt-in clause means these abuses of power are likely to continue once the new secrecy law is in place."

Kassrils Warns Against Rushing Information Bill

Former Intelligence Minister, Ronnie Kassrils, says the rush to complete the Protection of Information Bill by the parliamentary committee is worrying and will lead to huge problems and unnecessary tensions in the future.

Kasrils warns that the Bill will undermine the public trust in the intelligence and security services at a time when confidence needs to be built.

COSATU Warns ANC Over Information Bill

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has written to the African National Congress (ANC) warning that if changes are not made to the Protection of Information Bill, it will take the matter to the Constitutional Court.

In a press statement, COSATU says that in its present form, the draft legislation is a threat to South Africans’ democratic right to be fully informed on matters of public interest.

Media Urged to Report ‘Responsibly’ on Information Bill

The media has been called to report fairly on the Protection of Information Amendment Bill, which is currently before an ad-hoc committee in Parliament.

Speaking during the deliberations on the Bill, committee chairperson, Cecil Burgess, pointed out that it is irresponsible for the media to confuse the Bill with the introduction of a media tribunal.

Burgess argued that the Bill has nothing to do with secrecy but is aimed at ensuring responsibility. He further said that the Bill is about the protection of what he "valuable" and "sensitive" information.

What Has Gender Got to Do With Media Freedom?

This 3 May marked 20 years of the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Media, which was endorsed by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the United Nations General Assembly in 1991. This endorsement ultimately led to the creation of 3 May as ‘World Press Freedom Day’.

ConCourt Ruling Victory for Media Freedom: SANEF

The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has described the Constitutional Court upholding the Citizen newspaper's appeal in a defamation case by former Ekurhuleni metro police head, Robert McBride, as a victory for freedom of expression and the media.

In a press statement, SANEF, which supported the Citizen's appeal as a friend of the court (amicus), believes that the finding will aid newspapers in their battle against defamation claims and strengthen the principles of freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

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